How do you pronounce Manti Te’o, Lenny Kekua, and so on? Our handy guide.

How to Pronounce the Names of Everyone Involved in the Manti Te’o Saga

How to Pronounce the Names of Everyone Involved in the Manti Te’o Saga

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Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 17 2013 6:32 PM

How to Pronounce the Names of Everyone Involved in the Manti Te’o Saga

Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish talks with Manti T'eo during a game last year

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

While the speculation about the amazing dead girlfriend hoax continues to swirl, at least one thing is sure: There are a lot of people involved in this incredible story whose names are difficult for some of us mainlanders to pronounce. Is it MON-tee? MAN-tie? Tay-OW or tay-OH?

Aisha Harris Aisha Harris

Aisha Harris is a Slate culture writer and host of the Slate podcast Represent.

Herewith, a guide to properly pronouncing the names of key players in the crazy Notre Dame fake-dead-girlfriend scandal.


Manti Te’o: The young man at the center of it all, whose involvement with a girlfriend who never truly existed remains at least partly shrouded in mystery. Te’o shares his first name, often mistakenly said “Monty,” with a figure from the Book of Mormon, as well as a town in Utah founded by Brigham Young.

Pronunciation: Pronunciation: MAN-tie TAY-oh

Lennay Kekua: Te’o’s fictitious girlfriend did not, as was initially reported, die of leukemia. She also did not exist.

Pronunciation: leh-NAY kay-KOO-ah


Ronaiah Tuiasosopo: The alleged man behind the entire scam, he has been described as a “family friend” of Te’o.

Pronunciation: roan-EYE-ah Too-eee-ah-suh-SO-po

Reagan Maui’a: But maybe Lennay existed after all? No, she did not. But in yet another twist to the scandal, this NFL player claimed he met her in 2011 while doing charity work.

Pronunciation: Reagan mao-WEE-ah


U'ilani Rae Kekua: Lennay’s “sister,” whose Twitter account was faked.

Pronunciation: OO-ee-LAH-nee ray kay-KOO-ah

Fred Matua: A former NFL player and cousin of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo who died last August and whose jersey number and name served as part of the Twitter handle for Donna Tei.

Pronunciation: fred ma-TOO-ah



Donna Tei: The woman whose photos were, unbeknownst to her, associated with U’ilani’s profile and who contacted Nev Schulman of the television show about fake online relationships, Catfish.

Pronunciation: Unclear. The last name is sometimes pronounced tay-EE, and sometimes TAY. Her first name is presumably pronounced DON-uh.

Nev Schulman: The subject of the documentary Catfish, which centers on a relationship similar to the one Te’o was apparently involved in. Schulman, who now hosts an MTV spinoff show of the same name, has launched his own investigation into the Te’o case.

Pronunciation: NEEV SHULL-man